Insider’s View: Clapp Laboratory Basement
Although some may find the lowest level of Clapp Hall creepy, for others it is a haven full of biological curiosities. The long hall running the length of the floor, stocked with preserved specimens and cabinets of fossils, leads to rooms that serve many functions and entertain many interests.
These photos are just a glimpse of what you’ll find if you come by to explore. Don’t miss the following:
- The Animal Rooms. Whether purple sea urchins for Professor Rachel Fink’s Bio 200 class or toads studied by Professor Gary Gillis, you’ll find it in the menagerie of the animal-care rooms. A large saltwater tank houses molluscs, starfish, and small fish, while nearby smaller tanks contain small but aggressive crayfish that will come up to the side of their enclosure and wave their claws at their caretakers, as if in anger. Temperature-controlled rooms house frogs and toads, and a tank of crickets is kept to feed them.
- Labs. Professor Stan Rachootin often meets with his evolution students in Room 8, where monstrous skulls and a camel’s leg are mounted on the wall. Across the hall, in Room 15, a small selection of his vast biological book collection are crammed in next to equipment for collecting and mounting insect specimens.
- The Specimen Room. Off the animal-care room is a small, closet-like space packed with specimens, including skulls and pickled things in jars. Drawers full of mounted insects and shells are surrounded by cardboard boxes full of more biology goodies, including one that is mysteriously full of nothing but snake vertebrae and another containing birds’ nests from across campus.
- The Electron Microscopes. Mount Holyoke is in possession of both a transmission and a scanning electron microscope, housed at the far end of the hall along with six light microscopes and one atomic force microscope. Students can explore the microcosms of our world by taking a course in either transmission or scanning electron microscopy or through working with faculty to use the microscopes for research.
—By Rowan Collins ’18
— Photos by Joanna Chattman
This article appeared in the spring 2016 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.
April 13, 2016